Pergolesi, La Serva Padrona; Stravinsky, Pulcinella
The first half of the program consisted of Pergolesi’s short comic opera La Serva Padrona, paired after the break with Stravinksy’s Pulcinella (complete score), which was of course inspired by Pergolesi (or, as we now know, inspired by what he thought was Pergolesi, which in fact was not by Pergolesi but itself inspired by the early Classical composer, so it could be said that Stravinsky’s work was inspired by music inspired by music by Pergolesi).
Conductor Aleksandr Rudin understood the difference – he conducted the Pergolesi from the harpsichord with true classical style and feel. For the Stravinsky, he comprehended what Stravinsky was trying to accomplish: not to write early 18th-Century music in the 20th Century, but rather to update that older music using more modern techniques and compositional developments. Rudin knew how to emphasize the edge Stravinsky gave to the music, and to draw out the contrasts and modern harmonies.
The soloists also got into the spirit. Their voices would probably not fill a proper-sized opera house, but in the Conservatory (even the Large Hall) with a chamber orchestra, they were full enough. Wolf-Matthias Friedrich (bass) especially stood out with his good humor and clear (albeit Germanic) diction. Olivia Vermeulen (mezzo) and Stanislav Mostovoy (tenor) sang the other roles with gusto.